Toronto’s Drug Checking Service
People who use drugs in Toronto have long advocated for access to drug checking in an effort to reduce the harms associated with using drugs from the unregulated supply.
Launched in October 2019, Toronto’s drug checking service offers people who use drugs timely and detailed information on the contents of their drugs, helping them to make more informed decisions.
This drug checking service also helps to uncover the makeup of Toronto’s unregulated drug supply, which includes illegal drugs, as well as legal drugs diverted from regulated markets for sale through criminal channels. Visit the website for Toronto’s drug checking service to browse up-to-date and interactive information from samples checked to date. New information is published every other week.
How do I get my drugs checked?
Toronto’s drug checking service is free, anonymous, and available to everyone. Accepted samples include a substance (10 mg of a powder, crystals, rocks, or a pill, blotter, or a small amount of liquid) and drug equipment after it’s been used (a used cooker or filter, or leftover liquid from a syringe).
Samples are collected at five harm reduction agencies in Toronto where supervised consumption services are also offered:
- Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre (Queen West site) – Bathurst and Queen
- South Riverdale Community Health Centre – Carlaw and Queen
- The Works at Toronto Public Health – Yonge and Dundas
- Moss Park Consumption and Treatment Service – Sherbourne and Queen
- Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre (Parkdale site) – Dufferin and Queen
Results are available within a business day or two and are communicated to clients by harm reduction staff in person or by phone. Along with these results, clients receive tailored harm reduction supports, guidance, and referral to services (e.g., supervised consumption, naloxone training, primary health care).
How does Toronto’s drug checking service work?
Toronto’s drug checking service uses mass spectrometry technologies (gas- and liquid-chromatography). These sophisticated lab-based technologies offer detailed information about which drugs are found in each sample, along with some information about how much of each drug is present.
Toronto’s drug checking service is one of a few pilot projects that received funding from Health Canada to prevent overdose. This service operates by way of exemptions from the Government of Canada’s Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.
This drug checking service is being scientifically evaluated to understand its impacts on the health and well-being of people who use drugs in Toronto.
Health Canada | St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation
Alliance for Collaborative Drug Checking | British Columbia Centre of Substance Use | Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction’s National Drug Checking Working Group | Centre for Addiction and Mental Health | Health Canada’s Drug Analysis Service | Health Canada’s Office of Controlled Substances | Health Canada’s Substance Use and Addictions Program | Moss Park Consumption and Treatment Service | Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario | Ontario Harm Reduction Network | Ontario Poison Centre | Parkdale Queen West Community Health Centre | Public Health Ontario | South Riverdale Community Health Centre | St. Michael’s Hospital (Unity Health Toronto) | Street Health | The Works at Toronto Public Health | Toronto Harm Reduction Alliance | Toronto Paramedic Services | Toronto Public Health | Trip! Project | Vancouver Island Drug Checking Project
We acknowledge our service users, the members of our community advisory board, our partner organizations, and those that have lost their lives – both in the ongoing drug poisoning crisis and long before – due to policies of drug criminalization.
We acknowledge that the land on which we operate Toronto’s drug checking service is the traditional territory of many nations including the Mississaugas of the Credit, the Anishnabeg, the Chippewa, the Haudenosaunee, and the Wendat peoples, and is now home to many diverse First Nations, Inuit, and Métis peoples.
We acknowledge that racialized communities and survivors of colonization are disproportionately impacted by unjust drug policies. We strive to support the development of equitable drug policies that are responsive to the needs of racialized people who use drugs – including Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour – and their communities.
We acknowledge that many of the samples we check are linked to both fatal and non-fatal overdose, as well as adverse health events that impact individuals, families, friends, loved ones, and entire communities. We wish to acknowledge the people and pain behind the numbers we share.
- Detecting and Responding to New Psychoactive Substances: Experiences of Frontline Health Services in Toronto, Ontario, Canada (UN Statement)
- Comparing Models of Drug Checking Services in Canada
Toronto's drug checking service has launched an interactive website! We will now publicly share regular information on Toronto’s unregulated drug supply, supporting more evidence-based harm reduction practices, policy, research, and care for people who use drugs.View
The CDPE is leading a study to evaluate the impact of safer opioid supply programs in Toronto, Ontario.View
Drug checking services (DCS) provide information on drug composition to inform consumption practices and monitor unregulated drug markets. We sought to identify correlates of recent informal DCS use (e.g., fentanyl test strips) and willingness to use a formal DCS (co-located within a supervised consumption site and employing laboratory-based analyses) in Toronto, Canada prior to its implementation.View
This article reports on new synthetic cannabinoids (SCs) detected in drug samples submitted to Toronto’s Drug Checking Service (DCS) in Toronto, Canada, in the period following restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic in Ontario, during which global drug trafficking patterns are believed to have been affected.View
Diverse psychotropic substances detected in drug and drug administration equipment samples submitted to drug checking services in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, October 2019–April 2020
This report presents early trends of samples analyzed within the first six months of drug checking service implementation in Toronto, Ontario. We sought to identify the prevalence of high-potency opioids in the unregulated drug supply and to identify noteworthy combinations thereof with stimulants, benzodiazepine-type drugs, and synthetic cannabinoids. We also present data on reported negative effects of samples (e.g., overdose).View
Xylazine detected in unregulated opioids and drug administration equipment in Toronto, Canada: clinical and social implications
We report the first detection of the psychoactive veterinary compound xylazine in Toronto, the largest urban center in Canada, by the city’s drug checking service.View
What’s in Toronto’s drug supply? Results from samples checked by Toronto’s drug checking service: January 1 – December 31, 2020
Between January 1 and December 31, 2020, 1657 samples were checked using mass spectrometry technologies (gas- and liquid-chromatography). This report details the results from the analysis of those samples.View
Detection of Synthetic Cannabinoid Adulteration in the Unregulated Drug Supply in three Canadian Settings
The objective of this study was to characterise the presence of synthetic cannabinoids in the unregulated drug supply in three Canadian settings.View
As a harm reduction intervention available in Europe since the 1990s, DCS provide information on the composition of drugs to their clients in order to facilitate more informed drug-related decision-making and to increase the capacity of individuals to avoid ingesting unanticipated toxic substances, which can lead to overdose and death.View
Given the growing availability of drug checking services and interest in their impacts, we conducted a systematic review to investigate the (a) influence of drug checking services on behaviour of people who use drugs, (b) monitoring of drug markets by drug checking services, and (c) outcomes related to models of drug checking services.View
Read the Toronto Overdose Action Plan, endorsed by the Board of Health and calling for the implementation of drug checking at supervised injection sites and alongside harm reduction programming at music events.View